Federal authorities announced Tuesday that they have launched a domestic terrorism investigation into the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in Northern California, which left three people, including two children, dead.
Mass shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, a Walmart in El Paso, and a night club in Dayton, Ohio in the past week have broken our collective hearts here in the United States. While mass shooters typically share some of the same individual traits—rage, suicidal urges, and in some cases, serious behavioral disorders—we must name toxic masculinity as a factor that is often overlooked in many public discussions about these events. In this post, we unpack the role of toxic masculinity in mass shootings. As prominent feminist Jessica Valenti puts it, “The longer we ignore the toxic masculinity that underlies so many of these crimes, the more violence we’re enabling.”
By nature, men are not more prone than women to commit mass shootings, yet virtually all mass shootings are perpetrated by men, which is a major indicator that masculinity is playing some role. Mass shooters have other common characteristics as well. Almost all have a history of domestic violence and misogyny. According to a systematic analysis of 22 mass shootings by Mother Jones, there is “a strong overlap between toxic masculinity and public mass shootings.” As the chart below indicates, nearly all mass shooters have some history of violence toward women.
Virtually all mass shooters suffer some form of aggrieved entitlement—“an existential state of fear about having my ‘rightful place’ as a male questioned…challenged…deconstructed.” According to the Good Men Project, “Aggrieved entitlement is being told ‘no’ when the prevailing mythos of the culture has taught that I have a ‘right’ to something because of my birth (as male, as white, straight, educated, able-bodied … the list goes on).”
A society drenched in patriarchy teaches boys that their “rightful place” is above women. And racist and xenophobic rhetoric only serve to activate white men’s aggrieved entitlement toward people of color, immigrants, and other marginalized groups who are targeted by politicians.
The link between toxic masculinity and mass shootings is not new. Dr. Jackson Katz’s 2006 film, Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity, draws an explicit link between toxic masculinity and mass shootings. Dr. Katz cited the media’s role in ignoring this distinction. “In the many hours devoted to analyzing the recent school shootings, once again we see that as a society we seem constitutionally unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge a simple but disturbing fact: these shootings are an extreme manifestation of one of contemporary American society’s biggest problems—the ongoing crisis of men’s violence against women [or any group that activates aggrieved entitlement for men].”
Twitter Removes 88,000 Fake Accounts Tied to Saudi Intelligence Service
Twitter says it has removed nearly 88,000 accounts it deemed tied to a state-backed disinformation operation in Saudi Arabia.
In a blog post Friday, Twitter said the removed Saudi accounts were amplifying messages favorable to Saudi authorities, mainly through “aggressive liking, retweeting and replying.” While the majority of the content was in Arabic, Twitter said the tweets also amplified discussions about sanctions in Iran and appearances by Saudi government officials in Western media.
Twitter began archiving Tweets and media it deems to be associated with known state-backed information operations in 2018. It shut 200,000 Chinese accounts that targeted Hong Kong protests in August.
Social media companies have been trying to tackle misinformation on their services, especially ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential elections. The efforts followed revelations that Russians bankrolled thousands of fake political ads during the 2016 elections. Twitter’s announcement Friday underscores the fact that misinformation concerns aren’t limited to the U.S. and Russia.
Twitter said these accounts represented “the core portion of a larger network of more than 88,000 accounts engaged in spammy behavior across a wide range of topics”. Twitter said it had suspended all of these accounts.
“Primarily, accounts were amplifying messages favorable to Saudi authorities, mainly through inauthentic engagement tactics such as aggressive liking, retweeting and replying,” it said.
Twitter said in September it had suspended the account of former Saudi royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and others linked to the Saudi government.
The latest suspensions follow investigations by Twitter’s site integrity team. While most of the content involved was in Arabic, some “related to events relevant to Western audiences”, the company said in its blog post.
How You Can Combat Sex Traffickers
It’s important to understand there are patterns and signs that can help identify the perpetrators and help the victims receive help. Victims of sex trafficking are often vulnerable because of homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental or physical disability or lack of legal immigration status.
These are all contributing factors when identifying those who may be most vulnerable to domestic sex trafficking.
It’s easy to think human trafficking is limited to certain segments of society; however, it’s vital to remember that vulnerability to being trafficked knows no boundaries. Traffickers often prey on people who hope for a better life, lack employment opportunities, have an unstable home life or have a history of sexual abuse. These are characteristics that are present across age, socio-economic status, nationality and level of education.5
Age is one of the most significant factors in a child being vulnerable to sex trafficking. Pre-teen or adolescent girls are more susceptible to the calculated advances, deception and manipulation tactics used by traffickers and pimps; however, no youth is exempt from falling prey to these tactics. Traffickers target locations youth frequent, such as schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes.6
If you — or perhaps your school-age child — are concerned about someone you know, consider these warning signs (compliments of Shared Hope International) that an individual is being trafficked:
- Signs of physical abuse, such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
- Unexplained absences from class
- Less appropriately dressed than before
- Sexualized behavior
- Overly tired in class
- Withdrawn, depressed, distracted or checked out
- Brags about making or having lots of money
- Displays expensive clothes, accessories or shoes
- New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims. Tattoos of a name, symbol of money or barcode could indicate trafficking)
- Older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle
- Talks about wild parties or invites other students to attend parties
- Shows signs of gang affiliation (i.e., a preference for specific colors, notebook doodles of gang symbols, etc.)
If you see any of these signs or suspect a young person is being trafficked, please don’t wait — use these phone numbers to report a tip or connect with anti-trafficking services in your area.
BREAKING: Michael Jackson Filmed Himself Raping Kids
James Safechuck, one of the men accusing Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in documentary film Leaving Neverland, has said that the singer once filmed one of the their encounters.
In an interview with USA Today, both men say that he would often ply them with alcohol and pornography before molesting them, and ‘never wore condoms’ during their sex acts.
They also say that he would try to turn them against their families and would describe women as being ‘evil’.
Speaking about the recording of one encounter, Safechuck said: “He immediately freaked out when he realised what he just did and taped over it.
“It was fun at the time, and when you’re having fun, (Jackson) isn’t thinking about it. But later, he’s like, ‘Wait a minute. I just documented this.’ He was very careful, but that was his one sort of slip.”
Wade Robson, who also appears in the the film, and was a nine-year-old aspiring dancer when he met Jackson, said that he felt as if he had to perform when he was invited to Jackson’s Neverland estate.
“There was an unsaid feeling to be impressive and make it worth his while – get back into that favourite position in his life,” Robson says. “So the sex became, in the craziest way, the safe zone, as the rest of the relationship really changed.”
Safechuck goes on to say that Jackson once overheard his mother making a phone call while at Neverland, and then used it to try to turn him against women.
“My mom was on a call with her sister talking trash about my dad, and then he was like, ‘Look how evil women are. Your dad is a sweet guy. Women are conniving,’” he says. “It was a consistent theme with him.”
In a separate interview with Vanity Fair, Robson claims that Jackson would instil fear in him that both he and the singer would both be jailed for the rest of their lives if details of the abuse came out.
“There was no repressed memory. I never forgot any of it,” Robson says.
“A lot of what was going on when I was 11, was the direct fear that Michael put into me that if anybody was to find out about this, both of us would go to jail for the rest of our lives.
“I absolutely believed that. I was terrified of that. And I was terrified for Michael. I loved Michael and I was trying to save him. So many things were going on at the same time: fear, shame, confusion, and love. I knew I was telling a lie but I knew I had to. I felt like I had no choice.”
The documentary, directed by BAFTA winning British filmmaker Dan Reed, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last month, and left viewers ‘shell-shocked’.
Safechuck has now said that the pair are ‘not used to people believing us’.
“My mother believes me – I’m used to that – but I’m not used to other people believing me,” he says.
“It’s still really hard for me. And I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t hear a song. You go out to have a drink with your friend, you’re trying to relax and let everything go, and he’ll come on. Every time. It’s hard. It gets easier, but it’s still hard.”
Robson adds that he also had visceral reactions when he heard Jackson’s songs.
“In the beginning, I was extremely sensitive to it,” he says. “I would be at a lunch or a dinner with my wife, my child, and something would come on, and it would take over my whole body and I would have to leave the place.
“It’s rarely that physically intense now, unless I’m in a place for children, a playground, an inside gym. In those types of situations, a Michael song will come on and it’s a place that is supposed to protect children. That’s really difficult.
“My son came home from school one day, a few years ago, and he said, check out this thing my friend taught me: and he did some version of the Moonwalk.
“It was extremely triggering to me but then, as a parent, I’m trying to stop myself, because I don’t want to put my issues on him. But Michael is everywhere. It’s challenging.”
In a statement, the Jackson estate called the film a ‘character assassination’ and a ‘lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson’.
The film will air in two parts on Channel 4 on March 6 and March 7 at 9pm.
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